The Office of Lieutenant Governor dates back to the creation of Manitoba in 1870 as the fifth province of Canada and the first western province. Before 1870, authority in this territory was shared by Indigenous bands and the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Lieutenant Governor’s Position in our System of Government
Canada has a parliamentary form of government, with a constitutional monarchy. It’s based on the British parliamentary model, but has been adapted to suit our own needs. Canada’s Constitution recognizes The Queen as our Head of State, representing the totality of the sovereign powers of the country, which includes both the federal and provincial governments.
The Lieutenant Governor holds the highest office in the province, representing The Queen as Head of State in Manitoba. It is a clearly different role from that of the Premier, who is the Head of Government and the leader of the party with the most support in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
The Crown symbolizes the unity of the people and helps maintain our distinctiveness as Canadians. The U.S. has a republican form of government, quite unlike our parliamentary system.
The Crown is above party politics and it gives citizens a non-partisan focus for their loyalty to the province. As The Queen’s representative, Her Honour acts on behalf of Manitoba as a whole in the Vice-Regal role, rather than those who voted for the party in power at any given point in time.
As the guardian of responsible government in Manitoba, the Lieutenant Governor facilitates the smooth functioning of the Constitution and ensures that the democratic will of Manitobans and their elected representatives is respected.
The Lieutenant Governor’s primary responsibility is to ensure that a duly constituted government is always in place in Manitoba.
After an election, the Lieutenant Governor determines which political party enjoys the confidence of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, appoints its leader as Premier and officiates at the swearing-in of Ministers invited to form the government. The Lieutenant Governor also accepts the resignation of an outgoing Premier and ensures that the unwritten constitutional conventions of responsible government are respected where a government loses the support of the Assembly or is defeated in an election.
Other responsibilities include summoning the Assembly to meet, reading the Speech from the Throne outlining the government’s legislative agenda, giving assent to bills passed by the Assembly so they can become law, dissolving the Assembly, issuing writs for an election and signing decisions of Cabinet (Orders in Council) for them to take effect.
All government actions are taken in the name of the Crown and the Lieutenant Governor formally holds the executive powers on behalf of the Crown. The Lieutenant Governor invariably acts on the advice of Ministers but retains the right to be consulted, to encourage and to warn. The Ministers are responsible to the Assembly and, through it, to the people. That’s why we call it responsible government.
In addition to the Lieutenant Governor’s constitutional role, Her Honour and her spouse annually undertake hundreds of ceremonial, official and community functions to fulfil their Vice-Regal responsibilities. Their Honours host members of the Royal Family, the Governor General, Heads of State from abroad and other dignitaries, on official visits to the province. Their Honours offer hospitality at Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor, to a diverse cross-section of Manitobans, numerous charitable and community organizations, and visitors to the province. The Lieutenant Governor continues the tradition of hosting a private New Year’s Day levee for the judiciary, military, clergy and consular corps. She also hosts a Public Levee, formerly held on January 1, on a weekend in late May.
Their Honours serve as Patrons of various non-profit organizations, lending the dignity and prestige of the Office to worthwhile causes. Her Honour presents Lieutenant Governor’s Awards recognizing achievements by Manitobans in a wide range of endeavours, including the Order of Manitoba which she serves as Chancellor, and presents other honours and awards on behalf of other organizations throughout the province to deserving citizens.
Their Honours travel to every part of the province, meeting Manitobans where they live, work and go to school. The Lieutenant Governor speaks to audiences of all ages and interests about the strengths and values we share as citizens wherever we live – in the rural area, the vast northern region or the provincial capital.
The Lieutenant Governor is appointed by the Governor General in Council on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada, for a period of not less than five years. Because it is not a term appointment, a Lieutenant Governor continues in office until a successor is appointed and installed.
The Lieutenant Governor lives at Government House, the beautiful historic official residence on the grounds of the Legislative Building in Winnipeg. The Lieutenant Governor’s office is located in the Legislative Building and includes the Blue Room, Her Honour’s official receiving room for events which occur there.
The staff of the Lieutenant Governor support Their Honours in undertaking their various responsibilities and activities. Their Honours are also supported by Honorary Aides-de-Camp appointed by the Lieutenant Governor who assist them at events held at Government House and accompany them to outside functions they attend. The Aides serve in a voluntary capacity, without remuneration. They represent the three branches of the Armed Services, the police and civilians.